Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pornonomy Reviews: Taboo

Taboo (1980 - VCX)

Directed by:
Kirdy Stevens

Brooke West
Dorothy Lemay (as Dorothy Le May)
Holly McCall
Juliet Anderson
Kay Parker
Lisa K. Loring
Miko Yani (as Miko Yama)
Sarah Harris
Starr Wood (as Star Woods)
T.J. Carson
Tawny Pearl
Valerie Paulson
Don Fernando
Gary Eberhart
Ken Scudder (as Grant Lombard)
Jeff Scott
Jeremiah Jones
Jesse Adams (as Jessie Adams)
Lee LeMay (as Lee Le May)
Michael Morrison
Mike Ranger
Turk Lyon

As time goes by, I find myself more and more interested in seeing all the Classic classics. At the same time, I find myself more and more confused as which films, exactly, count as capital C Classics. One that would probably be on most porn historians' top 10 lists would be Taboo, if for no other reason than it was responsible for launching a series that's both one of the most (in)famous in porn and one that would have to rank (at, what, 27 movies?) as one of the largest non-gonzo (nonzo?) or loop-compilation series ever.

It's not worth a spoiler alert since (1) this is a pretty well known film/series, (2) if the title's not enough of a tip-off, then (3) it's pretty apparent within the first few minutes the direction the film's headed, but SPOILER ALERT this movie's about incest. The thing that struck me about it, though, was the relative nonchalance the subject was treated with. Granted, Barbara (Kay Parker) seemed to have some kind of moral dilemma with the whole situation - thought that just amounted to a brief "what we did was wrong" conversation with her son and a "I know I shouldn't but I really want to" confession to her friend (Juliet Anderson's Super Freak, Gina, who took the news not with shock but with the compulsion to rub herself off immediately). And Paul (Mike Ranger) had seemingly no internal conflict whatsoever: from his "I've got the hottest mom in the world" admission at breakfast, to his "peck on the cheek, mom? Pshaw, how about a kiss with tongue" maneuver later, to his response to Parker's apology after the deed was done ("I don't think we did anything wrong...let's do it again!"). Perhaps it's too much to expect a porn to have the tension and ambiguity of a film like, say, David O. Russell's Spanking the Monkey*, but it struck me that there was at least a little more thematic depth to be plumbed.

That said, I was surprised and impressed that while the film obviously hinged on the shocking relationship, the majority of the scenes (sex and dialog) dealt with Barbara and Paul individually and not together. Barbara's attempt at playing the field is initially stymied after xxxx sets her up with a swinger; Paul has a series of go-rounds with his girlfriend (Dorothy LeMay), although there's an obvious Oedipal fantasy subtext.

Two things I'd be remiss to omit concerning the sound of the film: While it's hardly the only porn guilty of it, the practice of overdubbing oral sex sound effects (*mmm, slurp, mmm*) is ludicrous. This is a porn from 1980, not a radio drama from 1935.... Secondly, there's a stereotypically Asian song scored under a scene between Juliet Anderson and her lovers (Don Fernando and Miko Yani); the only feasible reason it's there is because the woman's Asian, which is a bizarre, quasi-racist touch.

Overall, Taboo was well paced and acted and while I personally think it could have benefited from a slightly darker tone (something akin to 3 AM), as it's own entity it's befitting of the place it holds in porn history. B+

* Which, on a tangent, what the hell IFC? From time to time I'll go through the weekly guide for the Sundance Channel and IFC. If there's something I'm interested in, I'll record it and watch it when I've nothing else to (which happens less and less, since I've got an ever-expanding list of porn, but I digress). About a year ago, Spanking the Monkey was on the programming and I decided to record it because I'd enjoyed Russell's later work (Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees, specifically), I saw Carla Gallo ("Undeclared") and Zak Orth (Wet, Hot, American Summer) were in it, and it had the sort of innocuous description you might expect from an early to mid-90s indie flick...something like "disaffected young man has his summer plans ruined when he finds himself caring for his infirm mother." The description seemed fitting enough until about halfway through when I was like, "Is this...are they..." and then about three quarters of the way through when that changed to "Oh, god lord, they are?!?" Now, I've nothing against the challenging theme, but IFC could have at least hinted at it. Based on the description provided, I might have turned it on if I was at my parents' house for the holidays or something. Yeesh.

1 comment:

  1. I love Taboo! Taboo 2 is where it's at, though. Oh, and I love Spanking the Monkey - you need to do what I do and go internet-researching for tiny details while your companion stews on the couch.